Capital of Culture 2008
Their Majesties The King and Queen were both in attendance when Sandnes and Stavanger celebrated the beginning of their year as European Capital of Culture. King Harald formally opened the European Capital of Culture 2008 in Stavanger on Saturday.
Along with the city of Liverpool in England, Stavanger and Sandnes have been designated as European Capitals of Culture 2008 by the EU.
The opening celebrations started with a town festival in Sandnes Friday afternoon. Light art was at the centre of the Sandnes celebration, with the opening of a light floor called “the wishing well”, the lighting of important landmarks and the display of various light sculptures.
Opening ceremony in Stavanger
The official opening took place in Sølvberget, Stavanger's cultural centre, on Saturday. After words of welcome from Festival Director Mary Miller and speeches by Stavanger Mayor Leif Johan Sevland, Minister of Cultural Affairs Trond Giske and Director Jan Egeland, His Majesty King Harald held the official speech declaring the Capital of Culture Year opened.
After the ceremony there was a large parade and town festival in and around the Stavanger city centre. All the municipalities in the county are collaborating with international artists to mark the region as a whole as a Capital of Culture.
European Capital of Culture
The "European Capital of Culture" initiative was launched to bring European citizens closer together by highlighting the richness and diversity of European cultures and the features they share. It is administered by the EU, and was established in 1985 after a proposal by then Greek Minster for Culture, Ms Melina Mercouri.
Each year, one or two cities are designated Capitals of Culture. Athens was the first, and today more than 30 cities have been awarded the title, among them Florence, Amsterdam, Paris, Berlin, Stockholm and Reykjavik.
Vilnius in Lithuania and Linz in Austria have been named European Capitals of Culture 2009.
Condolences from His Majesty King Harald to His Holiness Pope Francis.
Congratulations from His Majesty King Harald to the new President of the Federative Republic of Brazil, His Excellency Mr Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.